There are a wide number of fabrics used in the manufacturing of fitness apparel, some synthetic and others are what would be considered natural (cotton, bamboo, silk, lyocell, and wool). Natural fabrics are becoming more popular due to their ability to be perpetually renewed, sustainable to produce, and more environmentally friendly than their synthetic counterparts. Furthermore, natural fabrics tend to feel softer and smell better than synthetics after a workout.
Considered a favorite fabric because of its great feel against the skin, cotton is commonly used in the manufacturing of fitness and lounge apparel. Despite its soft texture, when used in athletic apparel, it is usually combined with another moisture wicking fabric to prevent it from becoming waterlogged and heavy during a strenuous workout. Many major retailers and brands carry a line of cotton and cotton blend fitness apparel.
Offering a more luxurious feel than cotton and being more sustainable, bamboo is a rising star in the field of athletic wear. Its fast growth in diverse climates makes it a popular choice for manufacturers striving for sustainability. Durable and lightweight, bamboo fabric helps moderate body temperature by helping to stay cool when it’s hot and works as an insulating layer when it’s cold. There are many brands, like free fly clothing from South Carolina, now offering whole lines of bamboo clothing.
A articularly interesting fabric with a feel similar to bamboo, lyocell, is made of wood pulp obtained from farm grown eucalyptus trees. This pulp produces a fabric that is lightweight, absorbent, and incredibly strong. The process of making lyocell consists of spinning wood pulp into a yarn which is woven into a fabric. The process is not only sustainable but environmentally friendly because more than 90% of manufacturing materials are recycled. There are many major brand name manufacturers of lyocell that produce a variety of apparel for men and women.
Silk is a luxurious fabric to add to the manufacture of athletic apparel. It provides amazing sweat wicking properties and can hold up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling soggy or heavy. Water evaporates quickly and is part of what makes it an excellent warm weather base layer. The insulation and moisture wicking properties of silk are well known and thus silk is often used in the manufacturing of winter athletic garments, sleep wear, and bedding.
Wool is mainly used for winter and cold weather workout apparel because it is lightweight, and the fibers make pockets that trap air and provide its renowned insulating properties. It is the most popular fabric used in the design and manufacturing pf cold weather working, hiking, and outdoor apparel. It is the warmest of all-natural fabrics, which is why it is popular with skiers, hunters, and others who work and play in the elements. Sustainable and ecofriendly, wool is spun from soft and warm fibers of a variety of camelid species such as sheep and alpaca.